Good lighting can make all the difference when it comes to streaming with a webcam. It may seem pretty trivial, but the truth is lighting can make a massive difference when it comes to how your stream looks and feels — and how you look, too!
Finding a great angle for your webcam is all well and good, but it’s important not to overlook the importance of good lighting. Good lighting can emphasize the features you are proud of and when positioned well, can hide some of your imperfections.
Aside from making you look good on your stream, good lighting can also make a cheap webcam’s quality much better. With bright and even lighting, even an affordable webcam won’t have as much noise or artifacts, leading to clearer picture quality.
If you’re looking for quality lighting options and wondering whether you should choose the Elgato Key Light or the Elgato Ring Light, this comparison guide might help you make that decision.
Is Elgato Key Light Better Than Elgato Ring Light?
Should you buy the Elgato Key Light? Here are some of the reasons why it is a better option.
Pros of Elgato Key Light
It is BRIGHT.
Having bright lighting is great, especially when you usually stream in a dark room with the curtains drawn (or at night!). The Elgato Key Light is bright — 2800 Lumens bright. That’s a lot of lumens — enough to blind you at full blast! Okay, maybe it won’t really blind you, but chances are you won’t be using the key light at 100% brightness most of the time.
The Elgato Key Light’s brightness can be adjusted through the app, where you can also control the color temperature (how warm or how cool the lighting appears). Warm lighting can be great for your complexion’s appearance — in some cases, it can make you look more tan or golden if that’s what you wish. Cool-toned lighting has the opposite effect, though it all comes down to preference. Most people will find a middle ground that they enjoy.
Remember that warm or cool-toned lighting can also make a difference to your psyche as you stream. Warm light has more of a red or amber tone, while cool light has more blue or white. According to this article on ArchDaily, warm light often relaxes us more, whereas cool light can make us feel more alert, stimulated, and focused. Blue light also tends to affect our sleep-wake cycles, so you may want to avoid it if you usually stream at night.
It comes with a desk clamp and telescopic arm.
I’ve you’ve seen some streamers’ or YouTubers’ setups before, you may have seen the type of lighting they have. You might have seen lights on stands all over the place, to make sure they’re lit up well from all directions.
But what do you do if you don’t have enough space in your stream room to have lights on stands?
The Elgato Key Light saves the day in this regard, thanks to the fact that it comes with a desk clamp and a telescopic arm (so you can adjust its height relative to your setup). On the end, where you attach the light itself, is a ball joint so you can change the angle of the light as you desire.
Elgato bundles its Key Light with the Master Mount L, seen below:
Aside from being a study stand for your Key Light, the Master Mount L also works as a great way to rig your camera set up. By purchasing an Elgato Solid Arm (seen below), you can set up your webcam, DSLR, or mirrorless camera on the same arm your light is on, saving space and preventing clutter.
It integrates well with Elgato’s Stream Deck software.
The beauty of purchasing equipment all from one brand or one ecosystem is the fact that they’ll usually all integrate with each other. This is the very reason why many who own Apple computers will also have Apple mobile devices, and why streamers who have Elgato Stream Decks will also often buy other Elgato products.
Once you set up some buttons on your Elgato Stream Deck (mini, standard, or XL), you can control the brightness and color temperature of your Key Light without ever needing to press any buttons or stand up out of your seat.
As a bonus, the Elgato Key Light uses WiFi to connect to your system, negating the need for any additional cables that might just clutter your setup.
Saves space and stays cool, unlike old-style photo and video lighting.
If you’ve seen more “traditional” photo and video lighting like the softboxes and umbrella lights in the photo to the left, you can probably already see just why the Key Light might be a massive improvement.
For one, you can condense many lights into a single Key Light, saving tons of space in the process. There are no bulky stands that might fall over if you accidentally bump into them, and there are no massive, space-hungry pieces that you’ll have to find room for in your setup.
The Elgato Key Light is 30 x 350 x 250 mm or 1.18 x 13.77 x 9.84 inches (depth – width – height). It’s super slim and stays cool, even when you’ve been streaming for hours. Your PC tower gets plenty warm enough — you don’t need to add another heat source to your room.
Cons of Elgato Key Light
There are tons of more affordable options.
The first and biggest con to the Elgato Key Light is probably the fact that there are so many other options that are far more affordable. There are tons of key lights out there that are significantly cheaper with virtually the same specifications, so you can save over a hundred bucks on this purchase.
The only difference if you buy another key light, of course, is the fact that it may not come with an arm/clamp — and unless it’s built to, it probably won’t integrate with your Stream Deck. Also, if the light doesn’t have a remote control, you may end up having to get up to adjust the brightness/color temperature on the device’s body.
Key lights can be harsh on the eyes and cause eye strain over long hours.
Any key light is essentially a concentrated light source, regardless of how well-diffused the panel is. This means sitting in front of one aimed directly at you for long hours can start giving you eye strain. Some people even report ending up with a splitting headache at the end of their stream. This isn’t exclusive to the Elgato Key Light — it’s just an issue with key lights in general.
You can counter this problem by tilting your light at an angle, but this may have the negative effect of introducing uneven lighting and some unwanted, unflattering shadows. So if you still want to use a key light at an angle, you can use two, one on each side, pointed at you to even out the lighting.
Buying two Elgato Key Lights might seem ridiculous if you’re not exactly rolling in cash since they’re quite expensive. You may want to consider the more affordable Elgato Key Light Air below.
No physical controls.
The Elgato Key Light has literally no buttons or controls on it. Everything is app controlled over WiFi. This might not always be a con, especially if you intend to control your lighting via your stream deck. However, if you like physical control buttons, the Elgato Key Light might not be for you.
Is Elgato Ring Light Better Than Elgato Key Light?
Should you buy the Elgato Ring Light? Here are some of the reasons why it is a better option.
Pros of Elgato Ring Light
It has physical controls.
Even though the app controls for the Elgato lights are pretty convenient and efficient, sometimes you might still want a physical way to control your devices. The Elgato Ring Light wins in this situation, thanks to the physical buttons on the light itself.
You can control the brightness and color temperature of the light with the buttons on the ring light, as seen in the photo above.
Even lighting — with a single light!
One of the biggest advantages of using a ring light is the fact that the light projected is soft and even. Even lighting is a huge deal if you’re a streamer because you don’t want any harsh, unwanted shadows that can become very unflattering really quickly. This is also a big reason why makeup artists and beauty gurus love ring lights — the soft and even lighting makes for great photos and videos.
Ring lights also provide softer light all around, which works well for masking some imperfections like minor wrinkles and fine lines.
It’s gentler on the eyes.
Because of how ring lights distribute light, you won’t be staring into a concentrated light source for hours during your stream. This alone can be worth the purchase, since you may be able to avoid eye strain and headaches that you might otherwise get with the very bright, very concentrated Elgato Key Light.
Plus, the Elgato Ring Light is not as bright as the Key Light, at only 2500 (versus the Key Light’s 2800) lumens.
It’s fully adjustable!
Just like the Elgato Key Light, the Ring Light is 100% adjustable. You can adjust the brightness to your liking and choose the best color temperature for your preferences. You can do this via app control, stream deck, or the physical buttons on the light.
Also comes with an arm and desk clamp, and you can attach your camera directly to the ring light.
The Elgato Ring Light comes with the Elgato Master Mount S, which also serves as a great way to secure your camera via an extra mount arm. However, you might not need to get an extra arm because the Elgato Ring Light has a 1/4″ ball mount on it that allows you to secure your webcam, mirrorless camera, or DSLR onto the light itself.
However, if you’re using a heavier camera (such as a DSLR with a longer lens), you may just want to get it on an arm anyway.
Cons of Elgato Ring Light
Bulkier than the Key Light.
The Elgato Ring Light is 17 inches (43.2 centimeters) in diameter. It’s significantly larger than the Elgato Key Light, so you may need a bit more space if you want it in your setup. Either way, it’s still not so big that you wouldn’t be able to mount it behind your monitor or somewhere on the back of your desk.
Despite it being larger than the Key Light, the Elgato Ring Light is still a fantastic choice over bulky softboxes and umbrella lights!
Not as bright as the Key Light.
The Elgato Ring Light only has 2500 lumens, whereas the Key Light has 2800. But what does this mean for real-life usage?
You’ll feel the main difference when you’re streaming at night or in a really dark room. The extra 300 lumens on the key light can help to illuminate even your background, as long as you have it at 100%.
The difference is not really that big of a deal unless you’re working with chroma-key (green screens) and you have your light at an angle rather than head-on.
Tons of other, cheaper ring lights!
Any search on Amazon or other platforms will bring up a ton of other ring lights that you can purchase for less than half of the price of an Elgato Ring Light. However, they won’t always have a mounting arm, and they won’t always be app controllable. But if all you’re looking for is good lighting, these ring lights will work no matter your budget. Just make sure you choose one from a good brand, with great reviews!
Which Elgato Stream Lighting Should You Use?
|Features||Elgato Key Light||Elgato Ring Light|
|Mount type||Desk clamp + arm||Desk clamp + arm|
|Included mount system||Elgato Master Mount L||Elgato Master Mount S|
|Size||30 x 350 x 250 mm/|
1.18 x 13.77 x 9.84 in
(depth – width – height)
|43.2 cm diameter|
17 inch diameter
Stream deck integration
Stream deck integration
|Extra Features||Camera ball mount|
What is the Difference Between Elgato Key Light and Elgato Ring Light?
The Elgato Key Light is a much more concentrated light source, even though the panel itself has great diffusion. On the other hand, the Elgato Ring Light can provide you with soft and even lighting, avoiding unsightly shadows and eye strain-related headaches along the way.
Should I Switch from Elgato Key Light to Elgato Ring Light?
The Elgato Ring Light might be the right choice for you if you only want to have one light source while still having great quality lighting. It’s also a great option if you want to have physical buttons on your light.
Should I Switch from Elgato Ring Light to Elgato Key Light?
The Elgato Key Light might be the best choice if you don’t mind harsher lighting or having two lights to make sure everything is even. It’s also a great choice if you want a smaller, slimmer profile for your light.
Purchase These Lights
The Elgato Ring Light seems to be a fantastic choice if you want to get one light, set it up, and never have to worry about it ever again. The Elgato Key Light works just as well if you don’t mind having harsher lighting sometimes. In terms of versatility, however, having two Key Lights wins, hands down.
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